The Redmi Note 10 lineup design aesthetics have changed dramatically, as Xiaomi has gone ahead with a new design language called Evol, which follows a similar aesthetic as its Mi 11 flagship.

Redmi Note 10 Pro Max Note 10Redmi Note 10 Pro Max & Note 10
Atom Review Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 11:22

It’s been a little more than a year of living amidst a global pandemic. We’ve had various forms of lockdowns and curfews across India. But during all of this, smartphone manufacturers have continued to roll out phones. The smartphone business in India hardly seems affected by COVID-19 and consumers are still spoilt for choice every month.

Xiaomi took the Indian smartphone market by storm by launching affordable smartphones that far outpace pricier models from rivals. With their latest Redmi Note 10 lineup launched in March, none of that has changed.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the most expensive Note ever–with prices starting from Rs 18,999–but comes with a 120Hz OLED display and a 108MP camera, something never seen at this price. The mid-tier Note 10 Pro is very similar to the Note 10 Pro Max except for the megapixel count and a few other specs. The plain Note 10 is the budget option. I got both the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and Redmi Note 10 for review and in my opinion, both of them are game-changers in the industry. The Redmi Note 10 Pro is the odd one out and frankly, shouldn’t have been released.

What has changed dramatically with the Redmi Note 10 lineup this year is the design aesthetics. I must confess that I’m glad Xiaomi went ahead with a new design language called Evol, which follows a similar design aesthetic as its Mi 11 flagship.

Clean design aesthetics

The Note 10 Pro Max comes with a frosted glass back and a subtle gradient (if you opt for the Vintage Bronze variant). The phone certainly does stand out from the crowd. It is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3. The Note 10, on the other hand, does away with the glass back, opting for plastic instead, but nowhere does it feel like a cheap ripoff.

The one downside is the large-ish camera bump that makes using it on a flat surface pretty annoying. There are four sensors on the Note 10 Pro Max - the primary 108MP (f/1.9), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 5MP telemacro (f/2.4) and 2MP depth (f/2.4). The budget Note 10 Pro has a 48MP (f/1.79) main sensor, a 2 MP macro, 8 MP ultrawide and 2MP depth sensor.

Both phones are a pleasure to hold and use. Their design aesthetics are clean and in line with what a modern design should be. Xiaomi has opted for a side-mounted fingerprint scanner for its current mid-range portfolio. They’re fast, reliable and way better than in-display sensors that are iffy at best.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max:

> A 120Hz AMOLED screen - This certainly makes the phone more enjoyable to use.

> Stereo sound - Yes, the speakers aren’t the best but they’ve been improving year-after-year and are better when compared to Xiaomi’s previous Note series smartphones.

>A fabulous camera - In most lighting conditions, the Note 10 Pro Max takes stellar photos. The Night mode is limited to the primary lens and you can’t record 4K 60fps footage. Stills shine with the Note 10 Pro Max and you won’t be disappointed, even in low-light (just don’t forget to use the Night mode).

>Solid battery life - With a 5020mAh battery, the Note 10 Pro Max easily lasts a day and then some. With a 33W fast charger included in the box, there’s no reason to think you’d ever run out of battery.

>Headphone jack 

The Redmi Note 10:

> A 6.43-inch AMOLED Full HD+ screen - This superb screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. There’s no high refresh rate, which is the only disappointment, but having a high-quality OLED display instead of an IPS LCD display is the right move to be made. After all, you aren’t buying this phone for gaming.

>Design - Xiaomi got its design aesthetics right for the entire Note lineup.

>Battery - Xiaomi managed to pack in a 5000mAh battery and a 33W charger into the cheapest smartphone of the lineup. That’s great for 1.5 days worth of battery.

>Speakers - For just Rs 12,000 you’ll be getting stereo speakers. >Performance - It’s certainly not the fastest smartphone in this price range but it’s good enough for getting through daily except for gaming.

>Camera setup - While the primary camera does just fine in good lighting, it’s the secondary camera that takes the backseat.

The one consistent problem I’ve had with Xiaomi smartphones over the years is the mobile OS that they call MIUI. This time around the ads are just unbearable (Xiaomi has promised to get rid of it with MIUI 12.5, but who knows when that’ll come). It’s a cluttered UI with not many customisation options unlike those of their rivals–Samsung and OnePlus. MIUI’s aggressive app killing is also very frustrating.

Are these Note-worthy smartphones?

The answer is a yes. The Note 10 Pro Max is a jack of all trades smartphone while the Note 10 is a value for money champion. The Note series evolves every year but in 2021, the Note 10 series is a revolution. Xiaomi has upped the ante against the competition.  

Whether you’re going for the Note 10 Pro Max or the budget-friendly Note 10, some of the features are standard: a glorious AMOLED display, extremely satisfying battery life (with a 33W fast charger), Android 11 out of the box, great and reliable cameras, and the new design aesthetics which I do love.

There may not be 5G in these smartphones, but most prospective buyers won’t care about 5G for another two-to-three years. While you can nitpick and find a few other areas where Xiaomi doesn’t deliver with these smartphones, it doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. Xiaomi has delivered in aspects that matter to the consumers.

All images by Sahil Bhalla.

Views expressed are the author's own.

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